Harvard University is a famous Ivy-League university located in Cambridge Massachusetts. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, dating from 1636. Harvard in Cambridge is consistently ranked among the top universities in the US and the world, and financially it is one of the most well endowed nonprofit institutions in the world. Visitors to the Harvard campus will find its venerable halls of learning a pleasant place to visit, with many historical buildings and grassy quadrangles making the campus a nice place to spend a morning or afternoon. Harvard Square is a lively place to hang out, and there are plenty of hotels in Cambridge if you fall in love with this town across the Charles River from Boston and would like to stay for a few days.
Harvard University was named for John Harvard, a young minister who, upon on his death, bequeathed his library and half of his estate to the young university. Although the university graduated many Puritan clergymen in its early years, throughout its history Harvard in Cambridge became increasingly secular while retaining a strong Protestant base in the Boston area. Today it leads the universities of the world as a research institution, and it is generally considered a liberal, meaning politically leftist, institution.
The oldest part of the Harvard campus is the grassy area known as Harvard Yard. The 25-acre space is the center of the campus and contains several dormitories, libraries, and historical buildings. Massachusetts Hall, located at the western side of the yard, is the oldest still-standing building at Harvard University, dating from 1720. The Hall is built in the Georgian style and is the second oldest academic building in the US. It was designed by Harvard presidents John Leverett and Benjamin Wadsworth, as a dormitory for students. During the siege of Boston during the Civil War, the building also functioned as quarters for 640 American soldiers.
Located close to Massachusetts Hall in the area known as the Old Yard is a statue of Harvard University's first benefactor, John Harvard. The John Harvard statue is known the university as the statue of three lies; the inscription it bears reads "John Harvard, Founder, 1638". In reality, the statue was not modeled after John Harvard, he was not the founder of the university, and Harvard in Cambridge was founded in 1636, not 1638. The statue remains, however, a landmark and a target for pranks and legends on the Harvard campus.
Another notable historical building in the area includes University Hall, a white granite edifice built in the Colonial Revivalist style in the early 1800s. Designated a National Historic Landmark, it has contained a chapel, a library, and several classrooms. Also in Harvard Yard, Memorial Church is built in the Georgian Revival style and dedicated to soldiers who fell in the First World War. Sever Hall, also situated in Harvard Yard, is a Romanesque building notable for its elaborate brickwork and use of Longmeadow brownstone.
The Harvard campus has also made a commitment to environmental sustainability, and its green initiatives have won awards for reduction of greenhouse gases and other waste produced by the campus, as well as energy efficiency. It has also made advances in research and education in an effort to influence future generations to follow the principles of sustainability. If you're interested in the history of Boston, a visit to this storied institution is well worth your time.